In a couple of weeks I'll be driving from Mexico to California and then across the country to Washington, DC. My daughter has decided she's tired of riding the bus so I'm giving her my car. I have no need for it. After dropping it off in DC, I'm going ... somewhere else. Some place far away.
I remember the day I quickly packed my stuff in New York and started my journey to San Francisco. An autumn day in 1996. I was glad that I was going to start a new life in California. My four-years in New York were memorable but I was out of a job and one thing you need in that city more than anything else, more than in any other city, is money. Lots of it, just to find a hole to crawl in.
Meanwhile it wasn't clear how I was going to make money in California. Hamid, my Abadani friend, had agreed to put me up at his tiny place in Palo Alto, in the San Francisco Bay Area. So I didn't have to pay any rent for a while. But what about food? More importantly, who was going to pay my internet bills? Mother's $500 a month was a big help. I was also counting on a few hundred dollars in iranian.com advertising revenue.
I had no plans other than to go. My strategy has always been that I'll figure things out as I go along. Anything that ensures survival is good enough. The last thing on my mind was finding a job. I was going to California for its great weather and natural beauty. Everything would work out somehow.
California here I come!
When I handed over my apartment in Albany and left California more than two years ago, I was really leaving America. I don't want to say for good, but certainly for the foreseeable future. I can't make sense of it. To many around the world, living in America is a dream. Those who live in America are pretty darn happy, too, I'd say. So I don't know what's wrong with me. It's just an uneasy feeling I have.
I've been asked why I don't want to live anywhere in the United States and I've never been able to give an answer that would satisfy anybody, me included. For some reason, when I'm on American soil -- doesn't matter where, alone or not -- I feel anxious. I feel I'm attached to a live wire and can't break free. I have no peace, even when no one is around.
Sometimes I think maybe I'm upset with America's militarism. Or its wish and push for democracy in SOME countries, but not so much in others. I find it irritating that average Americans know very little about the rest of the world and very few bother to travel abroad. How can one expect a superpower to act reasonably and responsibly and fairly on the world stage If its citizens are clue-less and care less about things going on beyond their border? And what about the economy and financial situation? That national debt looks mighty scary. Meanwhile politicians have no grip on reality, no foresight, no courage, no honesty.
Those and other stuff bother me. But nobody I've talked to believes those are the reasons why I can't find a place to settle in America. They look at me as if I'm making lame, irrelevant excuses. And I probably am. I just throw them into the conversation so that I would have something to justify my discontent. The truth is that I have tremendous faith and admiration for American democracy and I'm convinced that it can, and always has, corrected wrongs. Call me crazy but I do believe common sense does eventually prevail in a democracy when people are forced to open their eyes and get involved. But until there's a crisis, a disaster, special-interest groups will get their way.
So who knows why the hell I can't see myself going back to live in America. I'm probably spoiled. And I know if anything happens, I can always run straight back to Uncle Sam, as I have in the past. Where am I headed? I'm not sure. I've been thinking of Easter Island for the past few days. That's remote alright.
Am I running away or chasing something? Nemidoonam... all I know is I can't wait to get away and get lost.
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